Sunday, January 11, 2015

When you wish upon a fish....

As I mentioned in my previous post, the results of the Jelly-wish Fish project would be tabulated and recorded. I finally found my notes, tucked into other assorted papers, hence the delay. A minor digression first to mention an observation about our young people…..during my art class this week I had 14 kids aged 12 – 14, all boys except one.

One of our activities is to discuss different types of art. I give them chalk and chalkboards to work as teams to come up with as many as they can think of in 90 seconds. The most was 7, then 6 then 4. (three teams).  Only one team spelled their words correctly. The other two boards were an exercise in deciphering assorted letters that were supposed to be real words. I asked if spelling was part of their curriculum (after I explained what a curriculum was)…no. They don’t have any spelling lessons. No need too, computers do it all.  So here are a few versions of what now passes as art terms and other words….

Arbstuck (abstract); gatar (guitar); sceting (sketching); sculptur (sculpture); bannanna (banana)… oh never mind…it was abysmal. Not to mention that they are sitting in a studio surrounded by different forms, colors, styles, images and yet nothing much came to mind.  However, after 6 hours, they had experienced pencil, patterning, watercolors, simple design and principles of composition, threading a needle and sewing on both a patch and a button among other activities in the allotted time. Somehow those last two activities are always the highlight of the day and rather difficult, but very much appreciated. So my wish for the Jellyfish is that spelling for accuracy, memorization, understanding of the basics of language structure and just plain brain engagement become part of our educational standards once again….but as I said on our Community Participation Project disclaimer, there is no guarantee that the wishes will come true.

Okay on to the statistics. Once our First Friday visitors understood the concept, tagging the Jelly became a popular activity. Only a few folks required good natured strong arming to get them to engage. My policy is that no one may exit Snarky Art through my McKinley door until one has left their mark. I guess a lady in a top hat is unnerving enough that just my disapproving glare for those who said they had not participated will cause an about face. You teachers know that “look”.

Final tally was 120 tags on the tendrils. One written in Greek and one in Japanese so I could not record their sentiments. The majority of wishes were for the usual health, happiness, peace and goodwill etc. standard beauty queen answers. A couple were obviously being snarky…like wishing to be hit by a bus (I know who you are and that was not what you really wanted….). But a fair number really gave this activity some thought and were genuinely in tune with the concept. For those who do not know about the tradition of a wishing tree here is what was posted on our board: A wish tree is an individual tree, usually distinguished by species, position or appearance, which is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value. The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees are located in Hong Kong near the Tin Hau Temple in Lam Tsu. Two banyan trees are frequented by tourists and the locals during the Lunar New Year. Previously, they burnt joss sticks, wrote their wishes on joss paper tied to an orange, and then threw them up to hang in these trees, believing that if the paper successfully hung onto one of the tree branches, their wishes would come true. In Glasgow's Hidden Garden at Pollockshields and at the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland, a number of trees have been planted onto which people can tie white labels, on which they have written their wishes. In Hindu mythology, the banyan tree is also called kalpavriksha, meaning "wish- fulfilling tree", as it represents eternal life because of its seemingly ever-expanding branches.

What follows are a few of the wishes left on our “tree” (adjusted for privacy):  Open an art gallery --- life would turn around this year --- not to be afraid, stand up for myself --- never reach the limits of my own motivation --- house will sell --- remain financially secure --- be free from anxiety --- live a year of feeling good about everything I do ---I wish to marry (name) --- new adventures and new love --- a year of family as everyone grows older and moves on --- babies!! (mentioned 3 times) --- to touch a student’s life --- get back with my ex-husband --- a wish for common sense for all of us --- for people not to look at me in disgust --- to thaw a frozen heart --- to make a different ---

I will admit that I was extremely moved my many of these and I too hope their wishes come true, many of these behaviors would benefit us all.  Thank you everyone who participated or just came by to see us. Anyone who is working at their own galleries, studios, restaurants, shops, etc and are actively “on duty” on a First Friday, we are all working to fulfill our roles and make these monthly events something that brings us to the attention of the general public who will then patronize our venues the remaining days of the month. However… there are those who are intrinsically part of this process that rarely make an appearance, so please put us on your list of places to stop by and actively participate. We only request a few moments of your time and the show of support is greatly appreciated! 

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